McCain wants to delay debate to focus on economy - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

McCain wants to delay debate to focus on economy

NEW YORK - Despite a call Wednesday by Republican John McCain to delay Friday's debate because of the economic crisis, Democrat Barack Obama says that amid the current financial crisis, it's more important than ever for he and McCain to sit down and hold a presidential debate.

In an earlier statement, McCain said he will stop campaigning after addressing former President Clinton's Global Initiative session on Thursday and return to Washington to focus on the nation's financial problems.

Obama later said, "It's my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who, in approximately 40 days, will be responsible for dealing with this mess."

Meanwhile, the University of Mississippi, which is slated to host Friday's debate, issued a statement saying they are going forward with preparation.

"We expect the debate to occur as planned," university officials said.

The Republican presidential hopeful called Obama before he made the statement and told him he was going to suspend his campaign, according to a McCain senior adviser.

According to the source, McCain wants to create a "political free zone" until a deal is reached on legislation for a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry.

McCain said he wants President Bush to convene a leadership meeting in Washington that would include him and Obama.

"It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the administration's proposal," McCain said. "I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time."

McCain said if Congress does not pass legislation to address the crisis, credit will dry up, people will no longer be able to buy homes, life savings will be at stake and businesses will not have enough money

"If we do not act, every corner of our country will be impacted," McCain said. "We cannot allow this to happen."

McCain also canceled his planned appearance Wednesday on CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman" program.

McCain said he has spoken to Obama about his plans and asked the Democratic presidential nominee to join him.

The Obama campaign said the Illinois senator had called McCain around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to propose that they issue a joint statement in support of a package to help fix the economy as soon as possible. McCain called back six hours later and agreed to the idea of the statement, the Obama campaign said. McCain's statement about postponing his campaign was issued to the media a few minutes later.

"We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved," McCain said. "I am confident that before the markets open on Monday we can achieve consensus on legislation that will stabilize our financial markets, protect taxpayers and homeowners, and earn the confidence of the American people. All we must do to achieve this is temporarily set politics aside, and I am committed to doing so."

McCain advisers said they are also reaching out to the Obama campaign to discuss pulling political television advertisements from airing, as well.

McCain's statement was an effort to show leadership on an issue that has spread economic fears across the country and overshadowed the presidential campaign just six weeks from Election Day.

The economy has not been McCain's strongest suit, and his move was an attempt to turn it into an opportunity to show he's the candidate of bipartisanship and action. Recent polls showed Obama with an advantage with voters in handling the economy.

The move put Obama in a bind. Rejecting the idea would allow McCain alone to appear above politics, but agreeing to suspend campaigning and the debate could make Obama look like he's following McCain's lead. Advisers also say that McCain still wants to participate in all three presidential debates, but that the schedule is up in the air.

"We welcome Sen. McCain's announcement," said White House press secretary Dana Perino, adding, "Bipartisan support from Senators McCain and Obama would be helpful in driving to a conclusion."

The schedule for the three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate was agreed upon on November 19, 2007. 

(www.msnbc.com)

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